Wednesday, January 31, 2007


oh. the lines inside the face were running deeper. to a river, running deeper.

oh. the downwards facing settlements, memories of fear, noone takes a brighter spark. erupts. and helps you walk into the garden. just as everything went black.

oh. and noones left inside the garden. noones dancing caring living, but the memories run deep.

oh. when the site is cleared it's all you see it's all you feel and all is healed.

oh. take a turn and scatter movements so the shadows know you inside out and follow you and take good care of you.

oh. was the world too dirty for a drunken sailor. dirty vast scablands cover the green meadows where you stood.

burn the cake and eat it
a faster round
did it spin to fire
were you hurt

scabland feel me
i'm alive
burning pictures
scatter down
is the face a dim light
or on fire
did it clean the next round
feed you light

oh. do you come into a desert town and stare and noone feels you coming closer and it's ending and it's fine but did you notice it still spins though all you did was say the word and all you said was be on fire....


bow into swirling ground
never stand up
like antlers from a frozen head

silent in the ground
gorgeous foggy street signs
point into another direction

as the soundman approaches and takes it away
bow down and spit into a smiling mouth
and pierce the face
like antlers facing outward
and inward calm
like stones standing in a circle
to protect
the light that fades away

for nothing prepares you for the sight
of silent antlers facing westward
while you sleep
and waste the dream

antique doll

brush stroke
the wind
it blast a little fortune into you
make it go and tear the mask away
little antique doll
your face betrays a wisdom
i don't see
in twisted fairground whispers
as you see
this ending is too close

little butterfly
is this still your wish
has it come true
or is it denied
knives out and a different scene
unfolds into a lenghty silent background
on your head
on your head

and i'm looking for a closing line
days and days to shine on through
fierce fighting
stolen glances
and a golden wish to guide me

and i'm looking for an eye to share
is this what makes it all so red
so green
so melted
so real
so turned on
so forgiven
so automatic
so strange
so magic

that i can't swim away
from your face
and freeze when you smile

and i'm looking for a doll to see
to show me the way
into this other room

and i'm looking for a closing line
to wrap the shades around
and falter

Disclaimer: We're recording some of these, sung more like a smudge than real words, probably, tomorrow. I'm trying to get some words to sing written down, it's not easy / too easy. i don't know. The songs are strong though... imagine these words heavily distorted, low in the mix, theatrical. might work!

when i'm pretty

when i'm sad,
when the stars reach out
and feel i'm bad,
when a light touch sinks
my troubles rise.
funny lanterns
ride on high
a wave that you regret
and realize
is that all you see
in your green night
when it's over
when it's bad
will you still steer clear
or push me behind
is the last word here
or in the ground
is this all you see
and all you found
when i'm happy
when i'm torn
when the night wind says
that i am born
when i'm trying to be
so late again
will the clockwork sink me
or take me to bed?

when i see it right in front of me

all the right gasps go
"pretty no!"
is there all one meaning
a flowerhead
for the greatest reason
to stay out of bed
will the last one turn
and stay ahead

when i'm pretty
when i'm bad
whne i'm sunken
when i'm spared
when i'm tortured
when i'm stared @
when the last word circles


is there all one world
or noone there
in the end?
will i find a finish
torn away
and my private island


watch out tiny one
believe the rage is yours
to steam and rise
through dusty tunnels
run away with dripping time
crawl up the balcony
bang on the door
hold on to fading skin
thrown on the floor
make it a contact piece
a comment a picture
a summery item
ride for colour
and slide a little flower
through your head dress
a blue staircase
and unfolding lights
stare ahead
give it to slaughter
feel it stride
do you want to control it
is it not your own wish
will it bloom forever
will it grow into an empty space
when will you realize
the trail is broken
where you abandoned the scent
make my machine forever yours
spray pollen
lick the seeds in the dust
find a reason
to make it flower again

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

fog on the road, playing out til sunrise: 1991

messy hair unproductive<>fault at heart<>laughing teenagers<>win a blue line running to the moon<>it's ok to id the sunset<>the younger john peel<>relax with a fan<>stomping feet to forget the rising time<>a whitewash?<>it was always a flat field<>a flag for perversion<>a younger smile<>i was so young in the hazy street<>we are all more equal now<>i distort voices with my memory lines<>speed interviews<>lying on a fake temporary plastic couch<>checking sunglasses<>creeping a hat over your festival experience<>vomit<>planes<>cities<>a face floating in a blur<>shades<>agreeable mouth<>a suit in an airport<>a young pupil doing better than the statistic<>following a suitcase with a butcher's head printed in a funny pattern<>moshpits escalate into swirling noise<>intuitive drunken bus ride<>dark lipped tiles<>i was a bright spark in a sunny afternoon<>release tension<>brighter shades in the background<>blend in<>young gods reflect on stonehenge<>leafy country lanes<>naughty boy smile<>repetition<>it's a release<>pissing with sharpness<>a finger takes the taste into your mouth<> circles of light<>riding a pop wave noone wants<>inside the time machine<>everything leads to a plastic crash<>i lived in a hole at the time<>now everything sounds bigger and heavier<>foggier<>orange lights drive into the movement<>houses appear with a rhythm<>all this was as you see<>but you can't touch it anymore<>the connections are getting blurry<>i was so happy to see you in the swirling lights....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Alien Sex Fiend's 25th anniversary show

It's 1984. We're in a car driving to my parents house. In the car is my best friend Frank, a female friend of his who is driving and G. We've been staring each other out for a while at the local punk parties. I don't know whether G. is straight or gay but he told me I look good. I've got black hair for the first and only time in my life. We sneak into my room, it's late and my room is right next to my parents bedroom. We have to be quiet. G. sits himself down on the floor in the corner just beyond the door and takes a cassette out of his black leather jacket. He says he likes it cos it's so "kaputt", so totally screwed up. It's Alien Sex Fiend's "Acid Bath", we play a few tracks and my mom pops in. She tells us to keep it down but she impressed G. by being reasonably friendly. I just want to do whatever he wants to do. I'm so fascinated. Later in the car he starts making vaguely insulting comments about Franks female friend in a sort of jokey way, noone's sure whether he actually means it. We are playing the tape again.

Another party, this time at Franks house. The punk scene in our small city is there but also the Goths, everyone knows each other vaguely. We play The Cure's "The Top" nonstop, singing along. A lot of people seem to have suddenly got really into the Cure at that point. Some of the punks get pissed off. Later we go to the local cemetery. We drive up there in cars, climb over the gates and wander around. People start nicking the candles, and I walk with G. holding a candle underneath his face. He looks really spooky like that. His parents are Italian and he has a handsome, Mediterranean face, like an Italian new wave James Dean. His black hair is short at the back but long in front and always slicked up into a kind of horn sticking out in front of his face. We walk and bond like that and i will always remember his face, looking like a ghost. Holding a candle underneath someone's face in the dark creates an eerie effect, I found out that night. When we came back to Franks house, one of the punks had broken "The Top" in two and had left the pieces of broken vinyl in front of the house, a dramatic gesture, haha. I still think about these times a lot.

Last Saturday Alien Sex Fiend played their 25th anniversay show in London. I'd never seen them so I went with my friend Steve. It wasn't very good but there was a sense of occasion about the event. The audience looked fabulous. The original Batcave look is still very much a force, this slightly cartoon-ish, campy vibe, there were quite a few gay people in the audience too. The DJs played the Virgin Prunes' "Baby Turns Blue" and a lot of people danced and sang along. I think that was my favourite moment of the evening. The stage was draped in spiders webs, there were inflatable bones everywhere that later would get thrown into the crowd, and some trash cans. Nik Fiend still looks like the undead back in 1984, his distinctive zombie face painted white, prancing about wearing a huge hat with cards tacked into the brim. But he was drunk, didn't care and it was pretty shambolic. The beats courtesy of Ms Fiend were alright and kept it together, just about. I read a Poppy Z. Brite novel in which two vampires are playing a gig in a club except it was more their presence that entertained, rather than musical merits. It kinda was like that. Still "kaputt", but vaguely fascinating. Shame about their rendition of "E.S.T. (Trip to the moon)", the one song I really remember from the 1984 days. It lacked something, but hey, I saw it. Above is some really fun footage from the original Batcave. I remember in those days we used to dream about London, and I once said to Frank, sitting on his windowledge as we used to, discussing his next hairstyle, I said: "Hey, we are in London" and in a way I still can't argue with that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Better Days Will Haunt You": Chavez

Some screenshots from the goofy little tour film "Boys Making Music - Music Making Men" following the NYC band Chavez and the mighty Guided by Voices on their first (and in Chavez' case only) European tour in 1995. It's edited for the oddball moments, so that it's fun to watch and won't get boring for the casual viewer, though i suspect there's lots more vintage footage, especially of GBV in their first prime, and I could definitely watch this for hours. I saw that tour when it came to Brighton, The Amps (Kim Deals short lived low key Dayton band that featured future GBV players Nate Farley and Jim Mc Pherson) were supporting GBV and i guess were the main draw of the evening. And one thing i didn't realize was that that was the evening I saw Chavez too. I'm always going on about that evening i saw Guided By Voices without really knowing them and in their more or less original lineup. I need a Time Machine. 90s nostalgia, it's happening... So I remember i saw Chavez too at the Concorde at some point around that time but i didn't realize it was the very same night, they opened it up, it's the last piece of the puzzle so to speak. I remember liking them, thinking that there probably was some sort of low key little cult around them in New York. I couldn't put my finger on it, but they were good. Well, they released two albums on Matador and then more or less vanished but they were being talked about in their absence and briefly reformed to support GBV on their final tour in NYC (we missed most of their set as we got talking to good Blowfish people in the lobby, i need another time machine to revisit these glorious gigs). So Matador has always been amazing with their box sets and reissues, documenting the past in their own low key, resolutely indie and definitely generous ways. The GBV box set, 'Hardcore UFOs', is seriously great, i can't think of another label who could have done such a good job. then there's Pavement, the 2 disc DVD set, which I've watched so many times, the 'Slanted and Enchanted' and 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' reissues. So much material, and so nicely packaged too. Nerdy, but so what. It's a labour of love. All of these at a reasonable prize too. So now there's the Chavez Box set (!) with the two albums and a third DVD disc. I already pointed out the GBV connections, especially on the tour film, but i like the music too, it's crunchy, rocking, pretty fierce but with sweet hooks in there, definitely a grower too. In the liner notes Cosloy and Lombardi say these albums were Matadors top seller of the 90s and the best they ever put out. Maybe hyperbole? I can think of a few other albums. Anyway, it's a nice box set and it's recommended.

Some of the screenshots are from Berlin where they played at The Insel, in former East Berlin right by the river, on the little meadow in front of the venue. Behind the stage is a wall that has "Guided By Voices", "Chavez" and "Tocotronic" graffitied all over it. The Tocos were playing on the German leg of this tour (Time Machine, please :-) A German GBV fan I know was at that show. He didn't know GBV at that point either but remembered he really liked the music, it reminded him of the Beatles, however soon after GBV had started their set, a friend lead him away to, uh, smoke something, that took a while (ho hum) and when he came back they'd finished and he had missed most of the set.

The tour manager, Kris Lee, on this tour who is in some shots getting smoke blown into his face by the very stoned men of Chavez was also the tour manger on GBVs 2002 tour, i remember him driving the rock van on that fantastic tour.

In the end you see Everett True on stage at the Kings College gig in London, singing along to "Lethargy". He was at that Brighton show too, gently wigging out right next to me. A lot of people had left by the time GBV came on. Some people danced. They didn't play that long. I stayed til the end. Well, to say any more I'd need to go back. A couple of songs recorded at the show were released as "Brighton Rocks" on a promo single. The old Concorde has long been demolished and is now in a new location further down the seafront. Brighton rocks. Chavez rocks too. Better Days will haunt you, indeed.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 - Best ofs

Well, it's fun, isn't it. Though this year I purchased even less new albums than last year. One big thing this year was delving deeper into music from Germany, both past and present, mainly Tocotronic, but also reading the great "Verschwende Deine Jugend" docu-novel about the early punk/new wave days in Germany and listening again to Fehlfarben and co.

Anyway here's a few I liked this year:

Sonic Youth: "Rather Ripped" - I don't always get their new records but I love SY. I think this was the last one I got since, uh, which one? Can't remember even...agggh "A Thousand Leaves". That's quite a long while ago. I'll go see them live anytime though. It was on my birthday wishlist, and it was bought for me, and it was a while before I gave it a few closer listens. It's poppy in places and quite typical sounding but after a while the trademark noise rock textures and the slightly faded washed up vibe they do so well becomes, ermm, clearer. I love "Rats", and quite a few others. They hold up well. I really like this album.

Tool: "10.000 Days" I tried not to like them or find them embarrasing. I just can't. Their live show is incredible, it's so switched into the way i subconsciously feel about a lot of things it's uncanny. Tunnels. Double worlds. Cyberpunk. Paranoia. Disintegrating images. Strangely constructed music. Guitarists who play music as if it's some weird science. And a great, slightly detached frontman, posing in front of the giant screens with their trippy slowly morphing images. Where do they come from? How do they do this? It's so assured. Anyway, I think this album is strong and enjoyable, I played it a lot this year. It's quite good at work too, a bit of background trance :-)

Isis: "In The Absence of Truth". More ambient heaviosity. I love the way they build up a tension, eventually switching into full on screamo metal mode, then retreat back into dark abstract Mogwai-style territories. Great live! I love the DVD "Clearing The Eye" too, was that released this year? it features a full live show...

The Melvins: "A Senile Animal". Yesterday I walked through boggy fields in the Chilterns on my New Years Day walk with the highly recommended old Melvins album "Bullhead" on the headphones. I love that sludgy, doomy, kinda underdeveloped sound. It could almost be "Faith" by the Cure in its stark minimalist stance but it's more formless and weirder. And this new record still has that essential sound, now with two drummers and backing vocals.

TV on the Radio: "Return to Cookie Mountain" I'm still digesting this but it's tremendous. Isn't it amazing that, 24 years after "Treasure" and 17 years after "Doolittle", 4AD can still release albums that gracefully piss over anything that calls itself "indie"? But don't let that put you off :-)

And two more from these awesome art rock veterans, so glad they're still around/around again:

Mission of Burma: "The Obliterati"

The Flaming Lips: "At War with the Mystics". Don't know why but this is my favourite Flaming Lips release by now. Really worked for me.

Robert Pollard: "Normal Happiness" For some reason, "From a Compound Eye" was last years record in my head, even though it was released this year too. Okay both of them, amazing, still! NH is shorter, but there's no shortage of wonderful little pop moments that will hook themselves into your head. I fear this record is not getting the response it deserves, it seems to sell more like a Fading captain-style side project, maybe two major albums a year IS too much (not for me though). He's giving up touring apparently too. It's a shame the solo career seems even less lucrative than GBV. And that he's seemingly given up on his overseas fans. But he still knows what he wants and he's still doing it. And the songs are still there. And for that I am grateful. Looking forward to the Circus Devils 2-disc set and the Best of Fading Captain next year.

Oh, and "The May Releases" on Bob's long running side projects label Fading Captain(the 50th release comes this year and will close the series!): The Keene Brothers, Psycho and The Birds, and The Takeovers. I like them all, it took me a while, but I think now I appreciate Psycho and the Birds and The Takeovers too for their assured smudginess, they're like strange low-key sketches, but it mainly works. The Fading Captain series really has come into its own, there's a lot of charm and confidence in what he puts out there, maybe too much for some, but I'm still interested. Keene Brothers, Bobs collaboration with current touring partner Tommy Keene, is great old school power pop and lovely mid tempo wistfulness and was an immediate hit in my house, right from the under-a-minute opener "Evil Vs. Evil".

Okay, my most important music purchase this year however probably was "The Best of Tocotronic", released 2005 I think. German Indie Gods not very well known outside German speaking countries. I knew them before, but not that well, and listening to this made me slowly but surely fall in luv. I've got pretty much everything by them now. It really started the ball rolling and I spent some time listening to German music again this year and reconnected with stuff I had halfway forgotten. That felt good and it will continue.

Greatest Gigs in 2006:

The Cure: Royal Albert Hall. I've seen them quite a few times since, uh, 1984 but this may be the Cure show I always wanted to see. Absolutely mindblowing.

Teenage Fanclub, The Bevis Frond: The Forum

Pere Ubu: The Mean Fiddler

The Silver Jews: Green Man Festival, Wales. I was in a shitty mood, it rained, we stood in the extra muddy bit and it couldn't have been more morose. Pavement's Steve West filled in on drums. Strangely perfect.

The Books: Queen Elizabeth Hall. A long time ago I walked through Marseilles and had this idea to record street noises and make music over it later. I thought that was a really original idea at the time. It's cool to see that people are making such great music with found images and sounds, though it's quite a slick, highly edited show.

The Wedding Present: The Forum (signs from the WP asking people not too smoke. Yay!)

Yo La Tengo: Bush Hall. (Smoke Free, double yay!)

Depeche Mode, Gang of Four: Hyde Park. A day after my birthday.

Deerhoof: The Scala. Just before their (second?) guitarist quit and reaching the same dizzy heights as about a year before at the ICA. When they're on, they're ON!

Of Arrowe Hill & The Lilys: The Luminaire. Great double bill, ATP warmup.

Patti Smith & Kevin Shields: Queen Elizabeth Hall. "The Coral Sea". Patti Smith was reciting a long poem about her old friend Robert Mapplethorpe, while Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) was sitting on a sofa on stage playing these long, abstract guitar noise motives, gradually reaching a dazzling intensity. Was recorded and will be released eventually.

That's probably enough for now. Happy new year!